Beyond engineering: The future of platforms
While we have made great strides in the last decade to break down silos in Engineering, in most organizations when you look outside there is still an abyss between teams sitting in different divisions in the organization. This can significantly slow down the flow of value to our customers, directly and indirectly.
You’ve likely experienced at least one of these in your professional career… Not being allowed to use the right tool for the job because of a strict procurement process. Spending half a day to get a 20€ expense approved and reimbursed. Or a much-anticipated employee onboarding portal that ends up being just a UI on top of the 73 steps and 14 approvals required to set up an employee workstation.
None of this happens in bad faith. It just turns out that traditionally teams and groups are incentivized for outputs, so the more cycles you can run and the faster you can close requests the better. We end up optimizing internal processes at the cost of company outcomes. I posit that, ultimately, this happens because teams don’t see each other as customers.
You might be thinking “But they’re not our customers, they’re our colleagues!”. Also true. The key here is that every team, every division in an organization can adopt a platform mindset in which they treat what they offer to other teams as an internal product.
That means other teams become your customers. Certainly there are particular dynamics at play when your customers are your peers as well but fundamentally the core principles of the “platform as a product” approach translate well across the organization.
We have seen this work well inside engineering, and we have started to see it in other domains of the business as well: Data science and business intelligence, but also leadership, marketing, legal, HR, etc. We will cover some early examples during this talk and think ahead to what the future holds for platforms beyond engineering.